Why the Mediterranean Diet for heart health?
The Mediterranean diet is the traditional eating pattern of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy and Spain. This diet is based on healthy whole foods and includes very few processed foods.
Key foods in a Mediterranean diet are extra virgin olive oil, vegetables and fruits, wholegrain breads and cereals, and legumes or beans. Onion, garlic and other herbs and spices are used to add flavour to foods and dishes. Yoghurt, cheese and lean protein sources such as fish, chicken or eggs are also eaten. Red wine is also a traditional part of this diet but is consumed only in small amounts and with meals. Red and processed meats and sweets or sweetened drinks are only eaten in small amounts.
The healthy food combinations in the Mediterranean diet have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This can contribute to prevention and treatment of a range of chronic diseases. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet can reduce risk of developing heart disease, including heart attack, and is also beneficial in helping people with existing heart disease to manage their risk factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure. Following a Mediterranean diet can also help prevent type 2 diabetes or its complications, depression and cognitive decline.
Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Mediterranean diet researcher has recently released her latest book titled ‘The Heart Health Guide’ and has given Heart Research Australia exclusive access to three recipes of Mediterranean dishes featured in this book for our Heart Health Club members.
Download these recipes here.
This content was written by Research Dietitian and Mediterranean diet expert Dr Hannah Mayr for Heart Research Australia Heart Health Club members. The Heart Health Guide is by Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, Published by Macmillan, RRP $34.99, Photography by Rob Palmer